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Materials Nexus Uses AI-Based Materials Discovery Platform to Create MagNex, a Novel Rare Earth-Free Permanent Magnet

  • Materials Nexus was formed in the second cohort of our Cambridge Venture Builder Programme
  • Materials Nexus’ AI platform is re-defining material discovery, 200x faster
  • MagNex was designed to address industry’s supply chain and environmental issues
  • This signals a fundamental evolution of R&D techniques.

Materials Nexus, a deep-tech company using AI to design novel materials for net-zero technologies, announced today the design and creation of MagNex, a new rare earth-free permanent magnet. The identification of MagNex was powered by Materials Nexus’s AI platform. Its synthesis and testing have been carried out in partnership with the Henry Royce Institute and the University of Sheffield.

Discovering new materials has historically been a slow, resource-intensive process, typically based on trial-and-error, and for this reason material breakthroughs have trailed behind other innovations in industry. The efficient, AI-enabled synthesis of MagNex using Materials Nexus’s platform puts the company at the forefront of its field, proving the technology’s ability to design and produce materials for industry requirements.

With an initial focus on magnets, Materials Nexus’ AI platform identified and analyzed over 100 million compositions of rare earth-free permanent magnet candidates that address industry challenges, such as supply chain security, cost, performance, and environmental issues. The current industry standard permanent magnet took decades to discover and even longer to develop into the products we use today; MagNex took just 3 months to design, synthesize and test – 200x faster. MagNex can be produced at 20% of the material cost and a 70% reduction in material carbon emissions (kg CO2/kg), compared to rare earth element magnets currently on the market.

Permanent magnets are essential for manufacturing across a range of growing industries, most notably electric vehicles (EVs), wind turbines, robotics, and drones. Demand for rare earth magnets is expected to outpace the supply in the coming years; in the EV industry alone, the use of rare earth magnets is set to increase up to tenfold by 2030. However, the rare earth metals required to produce these magnets, such as neodymium and dysprosium, are vulnerable to a number of supply chain issues. Materials Nexus stands to play a leading role in equipping future-facing industries with sustainable and accessible materials, of which MagNex is just one example.

Materials Nexus’ systematic approach can be directed at other high-value areas in the green transition, such as semiconductors, superconductors, and catalysts. As a result, material discovery is intentional, cheaper, faster, and more environmentally friendly than ever before.

“I am delighted to share the news of MagNex, a significant milestone in the use of AI to design materials of the future which are cheaper, higher-performing, and more sustainable than existing options,” said Dr. Jonathan Bean, CEO of Materials Nexus. “AI-powered materials design will impact not only magnetics but also the entire field of materials science – we have now identified a scalable method for designing new materials for all kinds of industrial needs. Our platform has already attracted widespread interest for various products with applications that include semiconductors, catalysts, and coatings. I look forward to seeing the role it will play in supporting market demand for the creation of novel materials to help address increasingly pressing supply chain and environmental issues.”

“We’re really excited that our first interaction with Materials Nexus has yielded such a hugely positive outcome,” said Prof. Iain Todd FREng, Professor of Metallurgy and Materials Processing, University of Sheffield. “The combination of Materials Nexus’s approach of using AI for materials discovery and the world-class facilities we have for manufacture of advanced alloys in the Henry Royce Institute here at Sheffield has allowed a novel magnetic material to be developed with breathtaking speed. This achievement showcases the bright future of materials and manufacturing. The next generation of materials, unlocked through the power of AI, is highly promising for research, industry, and our planet.”

“This is a ground-breaking discovery using innovative machine learning software, and its development has been enabled by Innovate UK funding,” said Bruce Adderley, Director for Make & Use – Net-Zero at Innovate UK. “This could have a significant future impact on our net-zero ambitions, through renewable energy and low-carbon transport, by removing the need for rare earth elements in high-performance permanent magnets.”